This year, I decided to volunteer to help propagate tomato seedlings for the CCMG Great Tomato Sale. It's our biggest annual fundraiser. I've never propagated seeds before, but I thought it would be a fun way to earn some volunteer hours.
Upon arriving at Our Garden in Walnut Creek, I received instructions about: (1) the structure of the soil flats we would be planting, (2) the number of seeds to plant per row, (3) how deep to plant each seed, and (4) how to immediately place the identification markers to avoid confusion over varieties. My assigned tomato was "Black from Tula". It was fun to take a flat full of soil and draw a thin line for placing the seeds (about an inch apart in 5-6 long rows). It was also nice to hear from other volunteers what seeds they were propagating this year and what success they had with other varieties planted in previous years. When completed, the flats were recorded and placed in the greenhouse and gently watered.
More to come in the next several weeks . . .
Dear Diary: I'm back! Its been two weeks since the seedlings were planted, and I returned to help move the sprouted seedlings into their new home – each one gets a 4 x 4 inch plastic pot with its own label! It was tough to separate some of the closely rooted seedlings, but with gentle encouragement, teasing, and promises of greatness, they saw the light! A place of their own! I'm so excited! The sprouted seedlings were planted deep down below their cotyledon leaf and then gently watered in the greenhouse. Done for now. Back in two weeks.
Dear Diary: It's hard to believe another two weeks have passed. I am back to help with more transplanting - this time I was working with "Bloody Butcher". This tomato variety is quite large and has a long root system; so long, in fact, that it was recommended that we slightly bend up the roots in order to fit them in the new pots. Later in the day, I counted labels we removed from seedling pots that did not make it. "Wisconsin 55" was the worst with the most seedling failures. As a Milwaukee native, I took it little personally and was a bit disappointed.
Overall, Diary, this has been a great experience. I got to see former classmates and catch up, I learned the proper way to plant seeds and handle their resultant seedlings, and I especially enjoyed the community feeling while working in the garden. It was not only educational, but it was fun too!